Pumping Mumma

The Perils of a Pumping Schedule

Illustration by: Talia Handler

Never in my life have I felt so alone, tired and trapped. When I fell pregnant, I never imagined I would use my breast pump for anything more than preparing some bottles for a couple of hours of being away from my baby.

But my journey didn't pan out how I imagined, as with most of life.  

Eight weeks into motherhood and our breastfeeding journey, I couldn't cope with the pain and discomfort. Give it time, they said, your nipples will desensitise. How shocking! Who would want that!

My daughter was diagnosed with a posterior tongue tie, and I so wanted to be able to continue giving her my breastmilk. The only way I could do this was to pump until we sorted out the issues causing me pain.

The first pump was so disheartening I couldn't get enough to feed her what she needed; how was this possible? I cried so much. We topped up with formula but we could instantly see the discomfort she was in from digesting the formula. She had never suffered from any wind from breastmilk alone. More tears! 

So I frantically researched how to build up my milk supply, I tried supplements safe for breastfeeding, ate oats for breakfast every damn day, and the list goes on! 

To this day I don't know if any of those remedies helped. I just stayed consistent, frequent and pumped when my daughter had a bottle to keep up with her feeding pattern and sure enough eventually my body produced the enough milk. 

I actually ended up having an over supply and my freezer was insanely full of milk pouches! I donated the milk my daughter didn't to mothers in need to give to their poorly babies.

I only had to exclusively pump for four weeks, but this felt like an eternity. Every two to three hours I would have to go pump and would be sat there for 20-40 minutes depending on how much I pumped. The 3 AM pumps were the worst, struggling to stay awake as the machine honked away.

I couldn't live the life I wanted to with my newborn; we were restricted to where we could travel to so I could stick to the pumping schedule. I tried pumping out and about, using batteries instead of mains, and I ended up getting mastitis several times.

I felt so trapped in my home. I was embarrassed to have people around as I would have to go off to pump, leaving them alone waiting for me. 

There were some laughs along the way though, at me more than anything! Family members would take the piss out of the sounds the pump would make, how it was like milking a cow, that I looked rediculous. I just rolled with it; they had never seen anyone do this before. I knew I was doing what needed to be done for our circumstances and had to make peace with that.

I can't remember the last pump I did before being able to finally breastfeed my daughter again. But I do remember the moment when she latched pain free. The excitement was unreal! I could finally get back to enjoying the lifestyle I wanted to of being able to take my daughter for walks, visiting family and friends and not have to worry about the time and when the next pump was due. 

I salute you, Mothers who have no choice but to do it, and for way longer than I had to endure. It is a true determination and our little ones will only ever understand the depths we will go to for them once they become parents themselves.

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